Crow gets around. By last count, she's singing with Kid Rock
on his latest album, covering a Hank Williams song on Tribute
(for which she's been nominated for a Grammy), singing alongside Stevie
Nicks on her new album, 'covering' the Beatles' Mother
Nature's Son on the "I Am Sam" movie soundtrack, crooning
with Willie Nelson on the Country Music awards, chipping in
on the Tribute to America album, and harmonizing with the
cashier at your local Kmart. She's got a new album coming out in two
months, on which Stevie Nicks and a bunch of other stars (Lenny
Kravitz, Liz Phair, Don Henley, and the Dixie ChickNatalie
Maines) will return the favor.
'playing around' is not just a Sheryl thing; it's the latest thing
in the music industry.
After Grunge Rock in the early nineties, then
Girl Groups in the mid-nineties, followed by Boy Bands after that,
and whatever else in between, we now have 'cross pollination',
and its all over the place. Tony Bennett had half the music
industry on his latest offering, from Ray Charles to KD
Lang to... Sheryl Crow. Ditto Willie Nelson. As Nelson puts it,
"Good singers sing together because they're combining talent
and mixing their fan bases." Read that: "helping sell
each other's albums."
course this isn't the first time a whole bunch of stars have sung
with Sheryl; witness her Sheryl Crow and Friends album, with
stars like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Chrysie Hynde, the
Dixie Chicks, and did we say Stevie Nicks again?
All Started with Led Zeppelin..
I'm biased, but this 'everyone-getting-together-to-sing-on-everyone-
else's-album' thing seems to have started a few years ago, when Encomium,
a salute to Led Zeppelin, came out. I had a music teacher
back in high school -- Mr. Treratolla, music class in 1979 -- who
once said no one would ever 'do' Zeppelin music, because they
couldn't do it as well, and people would throw rocks. This was long
before the word 'cover' was invented; ie, to 'cover' a song. Well on
Encomium, everyone who was anyone 'covered' Zeppelin, and
there was some outstanding work, including.. Sheryl Crow doing D'yer
has been 'doing' this for quite some time.. her cover of the Chambers
BrothersTime on the "Steal This Movie"
Soundtrack was really terrific. People make a 'cover' or tribute
album, they need a 'fun', 'uplifting' rendition of something.. enter
part of the fun is that Sheryl often screws up the song. She had
barely taken the stage for her MTV Unplugged performance a
few years back when she massacred D'yer Maker before the
whole music world, blowing a high note right off the bat; sounding
like a wounded bluejay. Then she got some of the lyrics wrong. At the end of the song she says playfully,
"Sorry Robert." You gotta love it; it's adorable. Some
don't think so -- my phone rang within seconds with a Zeppelin-fan
friend of mine on the other end ranting about how much she sucked.
Her rendition of the national anthem at Shea Stadium in the 2000
World Series bombed; made me, a Sheryl Crow fan, cringe. Hey, that's
life. Sheryl has, in her own words, an imperfect voice. It grows on
you; doesn't grate. As does her fun, simple, having-a-good-time,
let's-get-everyone-involved personality. So even when she fucks up a high note, you don't
mind. And when you watch it a second and third time, you begin to
like it even more (like I did when I reran the MTV performance).
Why the Country Grammy?
I don't understand how she was nominated for a Grammy for her Hank
Williams 'cover'. I mean it was good and all; Sheryl takes a crack
at yodelling. But it was just that -- 'good'; not great. Certainly
not as great as her cover of Zeppelin's D'yer Maker, which is
probably better than Zep's version, or her cover of the Chambers
Brothers'Time. And it's a cover -- not an original song.
How do you nominate someone for a Grammy for covering a song? Seems like the country music nominators
on the Grammy board were so happy Sheryl did a country song, they
wet themselves and nominated her.
at left: Sheryl Crow live -- at free concert in
Battery Park, NYC, during C'mon, C'mon tour,
Crow is soon to release her fourth album, and with it has come
an image makeover. Back is Sheryl Crow as the female rock star
most guys over 30 would want to go to bed with. Gone is the
short haircut and down-played appearance that she invoked
after rocketing to international stardom several years ago.
The story goes that Sheryl got a lot of grief for her first album, when
members of the "Tuesday Night Music Club" accused her of
ripping off some of their stuff, and jettisoning to fame because she
was pretty and cute, which is exactly what happened when her video Leaving
Las Vegas got nonstop airplay on MTV. As much as Sheryl's
sparkling white teeth and long flowing hair and cutesy appeal in the
video rocketed her career, they put an Achilles heel in it at the
same time, giving opponents ample ammunition to write her off as
'fluff' -- an accusation she took the time to refute on her second
album ("If It Makes You Happy").
is a fairly serious musician -- she was a music teacher in her
native backwoods of Missouri -- and plays multiple instruments,
including guitar, accordion, and piano. So I'm sure the accusations of
being just another pretty face galled her. Off came the hair in an
attempt to imitate, if not look like, the well-respected but fairly
plain-looking Emmylou Harris, who has made a career out of singing on
everyone else's albums.
just turned 40, Sheryl, as she says, is flaunting it while
she's still got it, turning up nearly nude in a recent Stuff
magazine layout, and appearing live at the Grammy's in some
sort of neglige.
a Big Fan
I remain a big fan of Sheryl Crow's. She is part country; she is
part rock-and-roll; and she's just about everywhere, which is a good
thing for those of you like me who find her singing to be a perk on
any album she appears on, especially if she screws it up.
Nicks looks like she's literally clinging to Sheryl Crow in
this picture, but it was actually Sheryl who grew up emulating